Saturday, September 29, 2007

Day two of the Gaua Arts Festival

Losalava bay, Gaua island, Vanuatu
14°12.1 S by 167°34.2 E

Day two of the Gaua Arts Festival

We'd heard in about "water music" in passing discussions with other cruisers, but had no idea what or how the music was created. To our delight water music was the lead off performance for day two so we assembled at the boat landing early to await the arrival of the performers. The first group of women arrived in costume including leafy headband and armbands stuffed with brightly colored leaves, shell necklaces, woven "mat" type skirts and little else than the decorative body paint that adorned their bare breasts and calves in red and white stripes or Neolithic stick figures.

The women walked into the water waist deep and formed a line facing the crowd. One woman lowered herself into the water up to her chin then sweeping her head side to side while blowing into the water created a remarkably loud trumpeting sound. Then the women began rhythmically striking the water and result was some amazing sounds.

Quoting Kathy Patterson from s/v Two by Sea wonderful description:

… then, by moving their arms with different hand shapes and specialized movements, they can actually make different sounds come out - and I'm not ONLY talking about the quality of the splashes, but actual NOTES! It is simply amazing. Imagine each of my nonsense words is a different tone, and see if you can sing this."

"It goes in strictly 4/4 time something like this:

THWOOMP, plomp, plomp
THWOOMP, plomp, plomp
THWOOMP, plitter, plitter
Thwoomp, plitter, SPLASH!
Plitter, plitter, splash, splash,
Thlump, thlump, THWOOMP!"

The percussions and notes so aptly described by Kathy were accompanied by singing and the result was extraordinarily magical once in a lifetime experience and certainly the highlight of Vanuatu.

Two more groups performed adding icing to the cake. I have a few short video clips of poor quality and some excellent photos. However, none of these can do justice to the performance and the experience. Simply amazing!

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